Archives Of The Insensible: Of War, Photopolitics, And Dead Memory

Paperback | December 8, 2015

byAllen Feldman

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In this jarring look at contemporary warfare and political visuality, renowned anthropologist of violence Allen Feldman provocatively argues that contemporary sovereign power mobilizes asymmetric, clandestine, and ultimately unending war as a will to truth. Whether responding to the fantasy of weapons of mass destruction or an existential threat to civilization, Western political sovereignty seeks to align justice, humanitarian right, and democracy with technocratic violence and visual dominance. Connecting Guantánamo tribunals to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, American counterfeit killings in Afghanistan to the Baader-Meinhof paintings of Gerhard Richter, and the video erasure of Rodney King to lynching photography and political animality, among other scenes of terror, Feldman contests sovereignty’s claims to transcendental right —whether humanitarian, neoliberal, or democratic—by showing how dogmatic truth is crafted and terror indemnified by the prosecutorial media and materiality of war.
           
Excavating a scenography of trials—formal or covert, orchestrated or improvised, criminalizing or criminal—Feldman shows how the will to truth disappears into the very violence it interrogates. He maps the sensory inscriptions and erasures of war, highlighting war as a media that severs factuality from actuality to render violence just. He proposes that war promotes an anesthesiology that interdicts the witness of a sensory and affective commons that has the capacity to speak truth to war. Feldman uses layered deconstructive description to decelerate the ballistical tempo of war to salvage the embodied actualities and material histories that war reduces to the ashes of collateral damage, the automatism of drones, and the opacities of black sites. The result is a penetrating work that marries critical visual theory, political philosophy, anthropology, and media archeology into a trenchant dissection of emerging forms of sovereignty and state power that war now makes possible. 

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In this jarring look at contemporary warfare and political visuality, renowned anthropologist of violence Allen Feldman provocatively argues that contemporary sovereign power mobilizes asymmetric, clandestine, and ultimately unending war as a will to truth. Whether responding to the fantasy of weapons of mass destruction or an existent...

Allen Feldman is professor in the Department of Media Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Formations of Violence, published by the University of Chicago Press. 

other books by Allen Feldman

In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:December 8, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022627733X

ISBN - 13:9780226277332

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“The indefatigable rigor with which Feldman limns the media, archives, practices, and metaphysics of contemporary sovereignty, along with its myriad forms of victimage, has the potential to educate and inspire a generation or more of counter-hegemonic, social-justice workers across multiple institutions, media, and national contexts. Feldman relentlessly pursues a mode of geopolitically emergent sovereignty that is fundamentally inseparable from war, terror, torture, clandestinity, and the programmed prohibition of the comprehension of these violent processes.”